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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

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lchic - 05:31am Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1023 of 1026)

.. indications he could stop a significant source of it if he tried.

Under the Bush doctrine, he's probably a terrorist.

So Bush's answer is not to criticise Sharon and not to call Arafat a terrorist. Instead, he urges Sharon to keep open a path to peace, even as the tanks roll into Palestinian territory, and tells Arafat he must give 100 per cent effort to stopping the bombing, even as the attacks continue.

"The President does not want to get involved," says Judith Kipper, the Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential think-tank.

Why not? "I can only guess. I think his advisers have said there are no Americans dying in this battle. They do tend to see things in black and white. The Israelis defending the homeland are the good guys. Arafat's terrorists are the bad guys."

Yet in failing to wade into the crisis, the US is damaging its relations around the world the relations it needs to build for its war on terror, Kipper argues.

"The US should demand a ceasefire, go over the heads of both parties, and hold them by the scruff of the neck they are out of control. It's spiralling down to madness."

But what to do, exactly? Bush points out that there are two plans to get the sides into a ceasefire and then negotiations on a settlement, but that every time there is hope to go forward, a bomb attack undermines proceedings. As well, Sharon hates and distrusts Arafat, and the Palestinians loathe Sharon.

And both sides rejected their best chance at peace, the plan hatched by Bill Clinton. That gave the Palestinians a state including 96 per cent of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and control of the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, but denied the right for Palestinians displaced by the creation of the Jewish state to return. Arafat, who rejected the plan largely over the refugee issue, has been pilloried for his failure to embrace the best chance for Palestinians ever. Yet then Israeli leader Ehud Barak was voted out of office largely because of the concessions he made in that plan, and Sharon rejected it. Bush also refused to carry it forward.

Now there is no such prospect. Bush says he favours a Palestinian state, but suggests no boundaries. The US welcomes a Saudi Arabian plan made public last month, but won't even call it a plan, never mind endorse it.

Sharon says the Saudi plan, although it envisions a secure Israel with normal relations with Arab countries, is nonsense because it has Israel withdrawing from all occupied territories and the return of more than 3 million refugees.

So still nobody knows what the Israeli and Palestinian bottom lines are. Now, with Arafat's refusal to rein in the bombers, some, including Republican senator Arlen Specter, wonder whether he really wants to have Palestinian and Jewish states, or whether his real ambition is the destruction of Israel.

Lindsay says there are three different views inside the Bush administration: that the Palestinians really want to drive the Jews into the sea; that there is a prospect for a Palestinian state that can co-exist with Israel, but Arafat is not the man to deliver it; and that Arafat is not perfect but he's the only real option.

"You can make compelling arguments for all three," he says.

At the moment, though, one thing is clear: Palestinians and Israelis are dying, but their leaders are enjoying growing popularity.

Arafat, under siege, his face lit by TV camera lights, is winning sympathy and standing among Palestinians, Arabs and the wider world. "He's loving it," snorted one US diplomat.

And Sharon, who was also fading dramatically in the polls, is able to unleash his most basic instincts as a fighter, even though his actions help Arafat and guarantee more bombings.

lchic - 05:34am Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1024 of 1026)

So if this is a cockup in the conventional-war sense .. then ... how would the world fare were it nuclear ?

A good reason to end the cold war and take down those missiles.

In the Middle East someone has to say "STOP!"

As with NUKES someone has to say "ENOUGH!"

But where would that simple-sense leadership come from when America doesn't know it's posterior from it's elbow in the military strategic sense ?

lchic - 05:39am Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1025 of 1026)

Israelis fired on international PEACE group

    .... 150 foreign protesters, is that Israeli tanks had taken up position there again, signalling their imminent invasion. Our non-violent action was intended to show that Bethlehem was filled with peaceful foreign nationals. A second aim was to visit families cut off by the Israeli advance.
    When we reached the first of two Israeli armoured personnel vehicles, we stopped and our negotiators stepped forward. Both are British nationals: the writer Lilian Pizzichini and a Glaswegian technology consultant named Kunle Ibidun. They were unable to state our intentions because the soldier in the vehicle's turret opened fire with his rifle.
    His shots were aimed in front of us. They could be called warning shots. But the bullets fractured on impact and his first five bullets injured four people: Kunle himself, a young Japanese woman from Bradford, an Australian woman from Hebden Bridge and Chris Dunham, a Londoner. As we backed down the hill, an elderly Englishman received shrapnel fragments in his face and an American was wounded in the leg. As I write, the Australian is still in hospital and the Japanese woman is returning home for treatment.
    I came to Bethlehem to accompany my wife as she made a documentary about the West Bank-based International Solidarity Movement.

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